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Emerge 2014 seeks creative projects for a 'Carnival of the Future'

Two performers, one clad entirely in red, and another entirely in blue
August 27, 2013

In our digital, globalized world, are we on the verge of the triumph of the empowered individual? Or are we hurtling towards a future dominated by complex networked systems that reduce people to mere bits? ASU’s Emerge 2014 is seeking proposals for spectacular and thought-provoking projects that provide fresh, aesthetically engaging insights on "The Future of Me."

Emerge 2014 will host two, evening-long "Carnivals of the Future," the first in downtown Phoenix on March 7, 2014 and the second in Southern California later in March. The carnivals will be radically playful and challenging, offering up a variety of tangible visions of the future world we actually want to make. The events will feature cutting-edge performances and swarming, flying technology along with experiences that obliterate the traditional boundaries between engineering, arts, sciences and humanities.

“We are really excited to invite everyone to step inside of a circus tent and see, hear and touch the future,” says Ed Finn, director of the Center for Science and the Imagination and one of the co-directors of Emerge. “Carnivals are creative, playful spaces that ask everyone to step a little outside of their comfort zone and try something spectacular and daringly new.”

Projects for Emerge 2014 may include, but are not limited to, physical and digital installations, engineered constructions, interactive pieces, performance art, scientific extravaganzas, sculpture, video art, games and dance. All projects should exhibit intellectual fusion and collaboration across the sciences, arts, humanities and engineering. Several winning teams will be awarded funding of up to $10,000 to build, document and exhibit their work at both Carnivals of the Future in March 2014. To submit a proposal, visit

Emerge is co-directed by a creative, interdisciplinary team: Joel Garreau, Lincoln Professor of Law, Culture and Values at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law and affiliate faculty member at ASU’s Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes; Ed Finn, director of the Center for Science and the Imagination and assistant professor of Arts, Media and Engineering, as well as  English; and Cyndi Coon, faculty associate in the School of Art and president of Laboratory5, an arts consultancy headquartered in Tempe, Ariz. Emerge also benefits from the guidance and input of experts drawn from across the spectrum of ASU’s schools and colleges.

Emerge was founded in 2012 by a team of collaborators from across ASU, and was expanded in 2013 to include a diverse array of partners from the ASU community and beyond. Emerge 2014 will feature a select group of inspiring, immersive, dazzling projects that come together under a big tent to create an unforgettable one-night experience. 

Each year, Emerge is built around a unifying theme that guides a series of creative and investigative projects. In 2013, Emerge tackled "The Future of Truth" and the stories we use to make sense of a complex world. The theme for 2014, "The Future of Me," responds to a moment in which individuals have more power to control their environment, share information and connect with one another than ever before. Simultaneously, and strangely, they also find themselves increasingly caught up in massive networked systems that they do not fully understand, and cannot hope to control. Emerge 2014 will explore questions of individuality, autonomy and freedom, as well as control, automation and facelessness.

“Emerge 2014 challenges engineers, artists, scientists, designers, story tellers, ethicists, humanists, makers and futurists to not just talk about the future in which we all can thrive, but build it,” says Joel Garreau, a founder and co-director of Emerge. “Emerge is a flagship demonstration of ASU’s claim to be the nation’s foremost silo-busting university.”

To learn more about Emerge, submit a proposal, or get involved as a volunteer or participant, visit To see more images from Emerge 2013, visit our gallery.